Bite Sized Chunks

I am sitting in a coffee shop in Washington DC, in between two meetings.

My work is such that my schedule is always changing. When I take on a new project or client, there is a flurry of activity, and a re-arranging of life and time to get everything done. I love my routine of waking up early, writing and doing my devotions, then moving into my day slowly. And then as the day winds down, I write in the afternoon, to calm my mind.

But increasingly, that is not possible. I am traveling more, and to be as productive as I can be, I tend to travel early in the mornings, and in the late afternoons and evenings, which are my best times to write, when my mind is in that place that ideas and words flow easiest. So either I write in non-optimum times, or I don’t write.

And not writing is not an option. Writing is my sanity.

Years ago as I was finding myself out of the depression of divorce and brokeness, I began meditation.

I was not good at it, I have to tell you. My mind tends to wander, to dart, to become distracted. It likes to chase rabbits, running and jumping this way and that to keep up. But I was convinced that it would do me good, and it has. It’s become a major tool to keep my unruly mind in order. I’ve learned to overcome my preferences of when to write, and simply write when the time allows. Like now, between two meetings.

The key for me, is clearing my mind. My problem is never finding ideas to write about. I always have plenty of ideas. Too many of them in fact. The key, for me, is to clear my mind enough to let ONE idea in and then work it. Meditation helps me do this.

Focus.

For all of our society’s blather and bluster about multitasking, we are learning by research that multi-tasking, while it makes us feel more productive, actually is less productive, and produces less quality work than focused time on one thing.

For me as a writer, I used to find my chance to focus in the morning and late afternoons. Those were the times when it just happened for me. When I was open to whatever spirit it is that lets me write poetry and fiction and journal entries.

But I have had to release the myth that those were the only times that inspiration was on duty. I’ve had to learn that I have more control over opening myself to that muse than I believed. That’s not been easy. As a romantic, I like the idea of a muse behind me, whispering words in the early morning. Releasing that myth has not been easy.

But it has been rewarding and empowering. To realize the muse is always there and that it’s my job to learn how to open myself to it, whenever there is a little chunk of time to work. To grab my sanity (because writing is one way I keep sane.) more purposefully. That opening myself to the muse is a skill, not some mysterious talent, has been hard to accept, But a couple of months into changing, adapting, and writing differently has taught me that it is indeed a skill, this opening myself.

And that, while it is less romantic and mysterious, is empowering.

It’s not come easily, learning to do this. There are days the meditation I need to use to do this comes hard, or not at all. I am convinced that the key, as it is in most things, is persistence, staying with it. God, the muse, the universe – whatever you call that power of love that controls the floodgates of life’s blessings – rewards persistence more than talent.

My next meeting is in five minutes. But I go into it more than prepared. I go into it refreshed, because I took time to do the thing that nourishes my soul – write. In bite sized chunks.

Take care. Travel Wisely,

Tom

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